Quote of the Day:
The survey confirmed they are unhappy—but it finds [Americans who identify as middle class] are specifically unhappy with President Obama and a federal government that does not provide them value for their tax dollars.
—William McGurn in today's Wall Street Journal
The survey in question was conducted for the Ripon Society by Republican pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group.
McGurn writes that in making an appeal to the Obama coalition, Hillary Clinton risks not addressing the concerns of a large percentage of U.S. citizens (seventy percent identify as middle class). Despite President Obama's constant attempts to portray himself as their champion, middle class Americans know they have done badly during his tenure.
Only 26% of middle-class Americans, according to this survey, believe their children will enjoy a better quality of life than they do, and this has soured them on the direction President Obama has taken the country. At the same time, Mr. Obama remains highly popular with the Democratic coalition that elected him. Mrs. Clinton’s pickle is that the agenda that works well with the Obama coalition turns off the middle class.
True, the survey finds 69% of the middle class saying the federal government is not doing enough for them. But digging deeper, it finds that more than two-in-three voters agree with the Reagan line that the federal government is part of the problem, not the solution. Nearly as many (59%) doubt the government is even capable of an effective solution.
When asked about their economic agenda, the preferences are likewise illuminating: in order, the middle-class priorities are jobs, reducing health-care costs, a government that lives within its means, and tax reform.
Mrs. Clinton so far is not attuned to this reality:
How different this is from Mrs. Clinton’s pitch, promising all manner of new government initiatives—from making college more affordable to building more roads and bridges to universal pre-K—that add up to $1.1 trillion in new spending. Bernie Sanders only forces her further down this road.
Mrs. Clinton claims she’ll pay for it all by soaking the rich. But however disenchanted the middle class may be about the Republican record of the past decade, the Ripon findings suggest they simply do not believe Big Government is the answer.
Some of the things that have created the discontent of middle class Americans include a stimulus that cost all of us a lot of money but did not lead to a robust economy, a new health care system that seized control of a sixth of the economy and under which premiums cost more and the bureaucracy became more intrusive. And there was this:
Even more striking, the Ripon survey found that middle-class African-Americans and Latinos are open to the same bread-and-butter Republican appeals that work with the white middle class.
McGurn doesn't address last night's Iowa caucus, but I wonder if the triumph of Ted Cruz, who is against ethanol mandates and subsidies, before which anyone who wanted Iowa's caucus votes had in the past to genuflect, signals that the middle classes recognize that job growth and a thriving economy are what will really make it possible for more people to get into and remain in the middle class.